What do a model-turned-TV host, a Canadian musician and a boy with a post-dentist buzz have in common? A few minutes on YouTube changed their lives. They may not be household names, but the power of the Internet took Amber Lee Ettinger, Dave Carroll and David Devore Jr. to places no one could have imagined.
Ettinger, better known as Obama Girl, appeared the 2007 video "Crush on Obama," a sexy, innuendo-packed political spoof in which the curvy Ettinger showed her support for then-candidate Barack Obama with a lip-synched song and skimpy outfits. When the low-budget video went viral, Ettinger suddenly found herself in high demand.
"The next morning, my house phone was ringing off the hook by every news station wanting to do an interview, asking, you know, 'Who are you, Obama Girl?'" she told "20/20."
Other Obama Girl videos soon followed, generating millions more views. (The videos were created by The Barely Political Sketch team, the same folks behind The Key of Awesome parodies.)
Other candidates for office asked Ettinger for endorsements, but she pursued other opportunities: She's now hosting a show on HDNet, a gadget show on YouTube and has her own jewelery line.
As for her politics -- Ettinger said she'll always support Obama.
"I feel like I have this odd connection to him," she said.
|David After Dentist|
David Devore Sr. had wanted to capture the memory on video, just to show it to his wife: Their son, David Devore Jr., then 7, acting loopy after dental surgery.
It turned out, however, that little David's antics would draw an audience much wider than just his mom. Devore Sr. posted the video, "David After Dentist," to YouTube just to share with friends but in the three years since, it's gotten nearly 100 million views and even inspired a spoof by none other than teen singing phenom Justin Bieber (who, himself, got his start on YouTube.)
Dave, now 10 years old, is still a regular kid. He loves football and video games. But make no mistake -- the video has changed the life of the Devore family. They make money from advertising on YouTube and licensing fees from advertisements.
Devore Sr. says the money's been enough to keep his kids -- David Jr. has a brother -- in private school. Hopefully, he added, it'll be enough to pay for college too.
|United Breaks Guitars|
When some people feel they've been wronged by a corporation, they sue. But Dave Carroll did what came naturally -- he turned to his music.
Carroll penned three songs after his Taylor guitar arrived broken following a flight on United Airlines and he found himself trapped in a "customer service maze." He uploaded his "United Breaks Guitars" video and two others to YouTube with a goal: to get 1 million views in a year.
It took just four days.
Carroll said United got the message fast -- they offered him $1,200 in flight vouchers plus another $1,200 in cash. Carroll said no to the offer and instead requested that United donate to a charity. (They did, giving $3,000 to Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.)
"We regret that we did not provide the experience customers expect from us to Dave Carroll," United said in a statement to "20/20." "His video made us more keenly aware that we needed to be more accessible to customers to resolve their issues quickly.
Today, Carroll splits his time between touring as a musician and being a customer service advocate.
"I started being called on to do keynote speaking about my experience because of the impacts in social media, customer service and branding," he said.
And he did fly United again -- in 2009, when the airline had the only flight available from Regina, Saskatchewan to Colorado.
"It was just one flight but they lost my luggage," Carroll said.
Carroll hasn't written a song about that ... yet.